Please tell me more about tea.

I told you what I drink and you told me what you drink. Cool.

Now I have questions. Not General Questions, this is going to get IMHO-y.

Irish Breakfast tea?
English Breakfast tea?
I’m guessing they are different, but why “Breakfast”?

Lady Grey? Similar to Earl? Related? Just a quirk of naming?

PG Tip? That’s the maker? Or a type of tea?

Chai? Is that Chinese for “tea”?

Russian Caravan? I think the Russians were big on tea. They have those cool glasses with the metal holders. Do they have their own kinds of tea?

We can skip the herbals and the green tea. Unless someone feels strongly about them.

Lay some tea-ology on me, baby.

I know I could do my own research, but like that’s going to happen.

The well known brand of tea was originally known as Digestive Tea when it was introduced in the 1940s, since it claimed to relieve indigestion. The manufacturers were requested by the (British) government to drop the reference to a medicinal benefit, however, so they altered the name to Pre-Gestee, suggesting a tea that could be drunk before food was digested. This rather awkward name was soon abbreviated to P.G. and Tips was added to refer to the tips of tea leaves that give a blend’s distinctive flavour.

From: Brewer’s Names.

As far as I know, PG Tips is manufactured by Brooke-Bond.

Serious tea people (the Irish and the English, e.g., and if you taste the coffee they make over there, you’ll KNOW why they’re serious tea people) drink one sort of blend at breakfast-time, and others later in the day.

Oh…and for years I’d assumed that Irish Breakfast was tougher and harsher and tweedier and more manly than English Breakfast (gosh, I wonder from whence THAT assumption arose), but I recently found out that it tends to be smoother and more subtle.

Any teaheads, or Irish or English people, care to explain why?

While recommended as a toxin-remover, tea comsumption in excess inhibits the body’s ability to absorb iron.

Tea Man is a wonderful resource.

Naw, Chinese for tea is “cha” pronounced like the cha in cha-cha-cha.

IIRC, Chai is how it’s pronounced in India. Nepalese also call it chai.

You haven’t even gotten into the different chinese teas. There’s stuff picked by monkeys from steep mountain tops, other stuff fermented and stored for decades (pu’er), Iron budda, dragon well and a whole host of other red (what we call black tea), green, silver types of tea.

Then there are the ceremonies and accessories.

chai is tea in russian. yes, there are russian types of tea, they tend to be black and strongly flavoured. many russians i know like to drink tea through some sort of jellied candy, or sugar cube. a bit weird to me.

i do use the glass in the cup holder, but the samavoir at home mostly brews dust.

Irish Breakfast tea? it might be a little smoother due to the amount of fried food in what we call an Irish Breakfast. A cuppa cha is great.

Coffee is for breakfast when we cant handle food :wink:
As for your remarks, Mr. Ike, what we called Coffee is whats known as Coffee-flavoured coffee. none of this variety of coffee’s that you need a Menu for.

I’m going to listen to some Denis Leary…

Like my sig says…

This is one of my favorite bits of translational weirdness.

The Chinese literally means red tea… but it’s translated as black tea because that’s what we call it… none of which changes the fact that the tea is brown.

I don’t know why but it amuses me.


*Chinese ch‘a became chây in Persian. The Silk Route, you know. Persian phonology has a tendency to add a final -y glide after long open monosyllables. For example, ‘place’ is also jây. ‘foot, leg’ is also pây. ‘face’ is also rûy. So when the Persians picked up the Chinese word ch‘a, it was natural for them to pronounce it chây.

It was from Persian that Hindi/Urdu (and the other languages of India), Russian, and Turkish got the word. The Modern Greek word tsai is borrowed in turn from the Turkish.

Meanwhile, western Europe was introduced to tea by Dutch East India traders who bought it from Malays. The predominant Chinese dialect spoken in Malaysia is a southern speech, Amoy-Hokkien, and there the same character for ‘tea’ (Mandarin ch‘a) is pronounced teh. Both forms derived from Ancient Chinese d‘a.

So the Malay word teh was brought to western European languages: Dutch thee, French thé (they moved the h around), English tea. You know, in the 17th and 18th centuries, the English pronounced it “tay” and the vowel didn’t shift until the end of the eighteenth century. In the more conservative pronunciation in Ireland, it remained “tay.” You may have heard the old work song that goes
Oh, ye work all day for sugar in your tay

Incidentally, the name of the “teapoy” has nothing to do with tea (even though it is used for serving tea). It’s from a compound of Hindi tîn ‘three’ and Persian pây, i.e. a three-legged table. An exact Indo-European cognate of “tripod.” (Compare “charpoy”: châr is Persian for ‘four’.) The English must have changed the spelling of tîn-pây to “teapoy” because they associated it with tea service.

In Armenian, tea is t‘ey; I’m not sure how they got that form.

Russian Caravan tea acquired its name (and supposedly its taste) from the method by which the tea was transported from China via the desert of Central Asia into Russia - camel caravan. This method took a long time - a year or more - and the tea was believed to have acquired its smoky taste from the campfires of the traders.

Here’s a bite-sized piece of the history of the China/Russia Tea Road:

Let’s see. . .

***** Lady Gray is a Twinnings tea trademark, and, like Earl Grey gets its distinctive taste from oil of bergamot, though is less strongly flavored than Earl Grey IIRC, and also includes orange and lemon flavorings.

***** “Authentic” Indian chai is not to be missed–the best thing on a chilly day.

Combine about half milk and half water in a sauce pan, with lots of sugar. Add 1 tsp. tea leaves per cup (preferably loose tea, if you have only bagged, cut the bags open and dump the leaves in or else the milk and sugar will “clog” the little openings in the bag and the tea will be too weak). Add lots of spices: a few cloves, a cinnamon stick or two, some whole allspice berries, some grated nutmeg, etc., mixing and matching as you prefer.

Simmer a loooong time. Strain into mugs. (Chai for me is usually an all-day thing. I ladle out and strain one serving at a time, dump the goodies back into the pot, and let it keep simmering.)

***** As for green tea, it’s the same leaves from the same plant as black tea, but it’s picked while still green, so there’s less oxidation. This leads to a mellower taste, and less caffeine. Oolong tea is intermediate, less oxidized than black tea, more oxidized than green. These teas should be brewed with water that is not quite boiling.

Herbal teas are a whole 'nother ball of wax, not made from the tea tree, but rather from all sorts of different plants. Tea snobs say they should be called “tisanes,” (pronounced ti-ZANS) not “teas.”

ARGH. “Twinings,” not “Twinnings.”

English Breakfast was developed by a Scotsman called Drysdale in Edinburgh. It was called “Breakfast Tea”. Then tea shops in England discovered it and, in that charming English manner of the time of co-opting anything on the planet that wasn’t bolted down, called it “English Breakfast”.

So, if anything, it really should be called ‘Scottish Breakfast’.

It’s funny the way Americans in the past few years have taken to using the word “chai” in a specialized way. It now means specifically ‘tea prepared with spices and sugar and usually milk, Indian-style’.

When all along, in India, chai is simply the word for tea. Any sort of tea. If you were going to ask for regular old Lipton’s Orange Pekoe in Urdu, you would simply call it “chai.”

The spiced/sugared/milky beverage is called masala chai in India. Masala refers to the spice blend (from the Arabic word maSâliH meaning ‘ingredients’ or, in down-home parlance, “fixin’s”). It usually includes cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and a wee bit of black pepper. (:eek:Black pepper?!?! In the tea? Yes. In South India they put it in coffee, too.)

Despite the image it’s gotten in America, masala chai is not an everyday drink for most Indians. However, they do invariably use milk and sugar. Black tea is thought of as only a sort of medicine for sick people. It was from India that the Brits got the habit of always using milk in their tea. But in Indian teahouses they are fond of seething the milk before using it, and adding a dab of coagulated cream from the cooked milk on top of each cup.

I’m thinking there must be a known linguistic phenomenon at work here, when a newly borrowed foreign word is used for a particular exotic variety of a thing, while in its native language it’s just the plain unmarked word for a thing.

Brew it per normal (loose leaves, mind, not bags) with some mint leaves, add lots of sugar, and serve with a fresh mint sprig.


Just to let everyone know I haven’t just wandered off, humming to myself, I still come back here to catch up on stuff.

Thanks for all the info. Now STOP IT!! I’m learning stuff here! (Ow, ow, the pain!)

Cool. Thanks, Jomo Mojo!